Please help me to choose a school - state v private I'm afraid

(131 Posts)
clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 08:59:22

I know it's been done to death and I've read loads of old threads, but am still struggling to make a decision and now only have one week before accepting a place at the independent school and paying a hefty deposit.

DS has been offered a place at our local independent school - it seems to be well regarded (top 50) and is academically selective. It has great facilities, great results, lots of extra curricular stuff etc but he would have a longish commute (car journey to neighbouring village where he can catch the school bus, an hour door to door).

This would be an easier decision if our catchment state school wasn't also very well regarded - Ofsted outstanding, top 250, also great facilities, and obviously free.

The reason we looked at the indie is because DD1 and DD2 are at the state school and, despite the pr, there are lots of things that we aren't happy about - having said that, they're both doing well.

We could afford the fees easily, and would not have to sacrifice holidays or anything like that, but obviously don't want to waste money - I have no doubt at all that the indie is better than the state option, but remain unconvinced that it is better enough iyswim.

I'm going round in circles and would welcome any views.

JoanByers Mon 11-Feb-13 13:57:38

Well obviously people will have experience of the schools in question and can comment on specific issues re travelling, e-c activities, bullying, and so on.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 14:00:25

Oh I see! I'd prefer not to name them specifically actually, and completely understand if this means that people can only offer very general advice.

bacon Mon 11-Feb-13 14:02:00

Is there an option to board in the week and come home weekends?

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 11-Feb-13 14:03:48

aaggghhhh! can I go round in circles too?

So most of me is thinking you should take the offer. You aren't doing this out of snobbery or vague aspirations. You're a balanced enough parent to see the problems in the local school, offer your daughters a choice but then respect their decision when they said no, which I think is really impressive. You've committed to the local comprehensive and you've found it lacking in important respects, particularly the lack of setting. Because (again) you seem very balanced, you'll hopefully be open to acknowledging it if in fact you find that the indie is different to what you expected.

Then a small part of me thinks "what if he is eaten alive at the indie and you are very far away and he doesn't feel able to tell you?"

I think it will be easier to go back into the state sector if you need to. You have set a wonderful example by giving your daughter the choice. So your son will hopefully believe you when you tell him that if he doesn't like it he can move back.
PS what does he think about it?
PPS have faced similar dilemma only the super-selective is grammar so free. Have chosen local comp. If this were my thread, you'd be seeing more positive comments about the local comp.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 14:06:10

>Oh, and one thing people don't take into consideration when they think about commuting to school is their social life.
It can work well (if its a school bus). DDs best friends at school are from her bus. At weekends she continues to socialise with her local friends.

As to the money - well, it sounds as though the DDs first put this idea into the OPs head so presumably won't be totally bent out of shape by it. Some siblings care about each other more than money! If the OP can afford it easily the question would be what else would they spend the money on which could be of more value than their child's education?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 11-Feb-13 14:08:11

I think the fact that your girls are happy and doing well and were given the option to leave and didn't take it speaks volumes for the school they're at! Unless they're saying that because they're happy coasting but you're unhappy with how they're doing, I suppose.

I don't see any reason at all to think ds will be 'eaten alive' at the school where your daughters are already - one person here has a bad memory of that happening, but I am sure that others in history have been 'eaten alive' at all kinds of schools.

however, I think that you do want to send him to the private school - just based on the fact you were happy when several posters said so. It's kind of like when you toss a coin and it's heads, you suddenly know you wanted tails! So perhaps you'll just have to go with your feelings on this.

Coconutty Mon 11-Feb-13 14:08:48

I think you should consider why your Dds are advising you to choose the private for him if they are so happy at their school. Could they be trying to let you know that they're not happy?

I would go for the Indy if I could afford it but would move them all.

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 14:09:07

How old is your dd, Grimma?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 14:17:47

>How old is your dd, Grimma?
Just turned 14. Where we live, if the friends aren't in our village then there would be much the same transport issues anyway regardless of school. Obviously this sort of logistical detail is highly variable.

INeedALieIn Mon 11-Feb-13 14:28:57

I loved my school bus. Dd loves her school bus too. I offer to drive her instead but she loves the chance to chatter, chill and hang out socially with her friends.

I had the turmoil of trying to decide what was best. Eventually in yr 2 I decided to give private a go and haven't looked back so far.

Faxthatpam Mon 11-Feb-13 14:29:46

Well personally, I would send him to the local comp. If you are lucky enough to live in the catchment for an outstanding rated comp then I firmly believe this will give him the very best all round education.

If it doesn't work out then you can move him to the Indy later - as another poster said, it's not set in stone, if it doesn't suit him it's pretty easy to move. There will always be people with good and bad experiences of both, but if you are dithering I don't see the problem with trying out the (free) comp for size first before committing a load of cash to the Indy. You might find he absolutely thrives at his sisters' school.

Hope I haven't added to your confusion, good luck either way!

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 14:39:03

But the OP has a choice between having her children at a school where all her friends are in striking distance, and having , like me, the possibility of a best friend a 60 mile round trip away. With hindsight, that is a deal breaker for me.

Sulawesi Mon 11-Feb-13 14:49:47

I think the OP said that her DS will have to sit an(other) entrance exam so not that easy to get in if he doesn't take the place now.

I've moved from a good state primary to fee paying and it was the best move ever especially as secondary option not so great. Personally if money isn't an issue I would jump at the chance especially if his sisters are saying he would be 'eaten alive' they will know better than anyone I would have thought.

You get used to the long days, I don't even think twice about it now and yes DC's enjoy the social and not overly tired even with all the extra homework etc.

How do the two schools feel to you though clevername? I just loved the feel of our DC's new school, you need to go with your instincts.

racingheart Mon 11-Feb-13 15:09:40

If I were in your position I'd have a serious discussion with everyone in the family about how they all feel if one is sent private and the other two aren't. There's a lot of blame that could be laid in later life. Why was he more precious/important/worth more etc? Why did you let us make that all important decision as to where to be educated, but make the decision for DS in his favour? (Not saying these qus are inevitable, but I'd want to know I had rock solid answers to them all.)

We've chosen private. Of the two Ofsted 'excellent' comps nearby, one I'd rather home ed than send my kids to (interestingly senua's data backs up my hunch that it's all mouth no trousers), and the other is lovely, it's fine, it's just not as good as the local indie. But if we only had money for one, I'd not think of it. Or if two were at comp and there was no watertight reason to send DS elsewhere, I'd tread very carefully.

INeedALieIn Mon 11-Feb-13 15:29:07

Contrary to seeker, I quite like that school friends are some distance away. School bus is social, events and activities are social, but when it is time to knuckle down to homework school friends are far enough away not to be knocking at the door causing distraction.

Dd does still have some local friends, but not the same level of distraction.

clevername678 Mon 11-Feb-13 15:33:01

bacon - yes there's an option to flexi board, so that's maybe something to think about in the future.

On balance, I don't think I am overly worried about the travelling - I travelled a similar distance to my state school, and enjoyed it actually.

The issue with his sisters is a fair one I think. They are both doing very well and I can't imagine that they could do any better elsewhere. They looked around the indie and reached the same conclusion themselves, although DS is a different kettle of fish entirely. I have talked to them both about this decision, and they both say that the indie would be a good fit and a great opportunity for him.

Interesting that music teacher suggests trying the indie with a view to moving to state if it doesn't work out, while faxhatpam suggests doing it the other way round. I wonder whether it is easier to move from indie to state, or state to indie, if the first choice doesn't work?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 15:33:09

INeed - I'm inclined to agree.

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:33:14

Forgive me if you've already said this, and I missed it, but.....which school does DS want to go to? Assuming he's been to look around both?

seeker Mon 11-Feb-13 15:34:37

Wow- you don't have much faith in your children, do you!

Sulawesi Mon 11-Feb-13 15:34:52

Definitely easier to move from state to Independent I would have thought.

WiseKneeHair Mon 11-Feb-13 15:44:46

Hi Op
We are in a similar position. DS1 has been offered a place at our selective secondary school. Or, he could go to the local, good enough state school.
I don't have the answer, but our decision has been made by DS. He likes the indie school, enjoyed his taster day there, but doesnt want to go there. Therefore, we are going with the state option. I do have at the back of my mind, that if it doesn't work, that as he passed the entrance test, that there is the possibility of him going there in year 8/9, but I don't know how realistic that is.
What does your DS want to do? I'm not sure an 11 yo has the emotional maturity to fully make this decision, but obviously they need to be part of the decision making process.

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:45:09

Is it? I can imagine dd1 (currently at a state primary) having the shock of her life if I move her to an Indie - in terms of homework, length of school day, amount of sports played, at the very least. Not to say she wouldn't adapt - I'm sure she would - but I don't think it would be easy that way around.

Whereas the other way around, given that she's already had experience in a state school (and thrived there), I think it would be easier. Maybe it depends on the child, and the schools - as usual.

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:45:32

oops - was responding to Sulawasi's point!

Elibean Mon 11-Feb-13 15:46:42

And would echo WKH - we plan to take dd to see the schools that are possible options, and let her be a part of the final decision. She's the one that has to go there for years smile

GrimmaTheNome Mon 11-Feb-13 15:49:49

>Wow- you don't have much faith in your children, do you!

Enough, I think - for instance, they can arrange something after school in that town and come home later on the public bus (some of the way) together. Takes a bit more organisation on their part than the ad hoc door knocking. At the moment this tends to be end of term special dispensation but I expect this to change as they get older.

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